Charlie Hager and
The Captain Legendary Band
SMOKING BARREL
©2010 Independently Released
Review by Lucky Boyd
Co-Founder, MyTexasMusic.com

What better way could there be to kick off a season of promoting a new album but to take home the Live Band of the Year award at the 2010 Texas Music Awards?  The Captain Legendary Band grabbed the honors in May, just as their new release was finding its way into the hands of awaiting fans.  This album marks some significant changes for the band.  When I reviewed this band’s last album, I remarked that they “were not the same band they were” two years prior.  It’s been about four years since that release, and I’m forced to say it again.  This is not the band of 2006 who matured on the Texas music scene on the wings of Jeff Hager’s production debut.  This time, the band employed the services of 2009 Texas Music Awards Producer of the Year, Billy Jo High.  It’s a move that will pay off in a big way.  High appears on the album, as he usually does when producing, and brings an attitude to the project that is the foundation of the band’s transformation with respect to recorded product.  An additional change you’ll see is the listing of the band as Charlie Hager and The Captain Legendary Band.  Don’t be alarmed, as I don’t think you’re seeing Charlie trying to distance himself or establish himself in any way.  It’s a common sense move in light of the band’s personnel changes over their career, letting fans connect not only with the band name, but with the solidity of its core performer, writer, and one of the founding members.  For this album, it’s almost as much a solo album for Charlie as it is a band album for TCLB, another reason for the morphed listing.  Hager pens eleven of the fourteen tracks, co-pens another, and the band covers two, including a reprisal of “Moonshiner’s Prayer” in which the band offers a rocky and high energy performance of the previously acoustic laden recording.  “Back Home” received the same treatment, making it hit material.  The album is almost entirely a rock-laden version of the band’s previous offerings, a testament to High’s production and undoubtedly the new direction the band is now taking.  It’s a great move for the band which can now make the full transition from very good acoustic-based band to kick-ass Texas superstar talent.  I’m not a big fan of drug songs, no matter the underlying story, but Hager’s “Cocaine Afternoon” uses the drug reference in a figurative manner to observe an interesting truism of life.  It’s more of a tongue-in-cheek look at the absurdity of all types of substance abuse, rather than an autobiographical issuance.  All those facts aside, the tune has all the elements of a hit song, if not with radio, then most certainly with fans, driving album sales to a point where it can not be ignored.  For those of you who like a good instrumental, check out “Harry The Beast Stomp.”  The title track is an epic story of good gone bad and all that comes with it.  The album is the band’s best work to date, there’s no question of that, but if there’s anything lacking it would be some of that old TCLB diversity that we’ve grown used to.  Many of the songs contain the same intensity and attitude, making it a great disc indeed, but “Close My Eyes” is the only true ballad, and we all know that Hager can throw down a ballad as expertly as anyone.  I would have liked another love song or two.  I think fans will dig the new and improved CH&TCLB, and it wouldn’t surprise me if their fan club calls themselves the CHATCLUB.  Go figure.  This is a great album.  It stayed in my player for three days and then found its way to my personal music device, a distinction for a surprisingly few albums.  There will be surprises if this album shows up on the nominee list in the 2011 awards season.  Excellent work, guys.  You should be proud… I know I am.